An inconvenient tooth

Before I start, a quick joke:

What did the dentist say to the computer?

This won't hurt a byte.

Yes, you can stop groaning now. If it's any consolation, I'm groaning a whole lot more at dentists at the moment, primarily due to the fact that I'm writing this only a few hours after having some major dental surgery performed. Which is why I'm typing this and you're reading it, rather than me giving it as a speech.

Like most people, I don't really look forward to going to the dentist, and on this occasion I felt even more trepidation — not the least part of which was because I knew it was a major job and therefore was going to hurt. But needs must, and all that, so off to the dentist I trotted ...

(Don't worry. You haven't accidentally clicked on PlaqueTheBlog by accident. I'm just setting a scene for you)

While I sat in the chair being numbed, drilled, prodded and poked, my dentist and his assistant started chatting about music and, more specifically, iTunes. It turns out he didn't exactly get how the process of moving music from a CD into iTunes and then onto his iPod worked. His kids got it, his wife got it, and it all seemed to just sit there on his Mac, but not enough of it was his choice of music.

I would have spoken up at the time with some advice, but my mouth was full of rather sharp implements and that strange tube that sucks moisture out of your entire head, so for possibly the first time in recorded history, I was quiet. I would have held my tongue, but there was already a tool in place for that.

Well, OK, not that quiet. At a break point in the procedure, I pointed out that it was all rather easy to do, with not a whole lot more to deal with than popping the relevant CD into the drive and letting iTunes do its guided thing. He was worried that he'd get it wrong, or it wouldn't work, and asked if I could show him how, post-procedure. So once all the business with whirring drills, numbing injections and pain was over and done with, I wandered into his office and showed him how to import a CD into iTunes.

No, this isn't going to be a tutorial on how to do that because, in reality, it is exceptionally easy to do. The thing is, he was equally worried about mucking up his computer as I was going into the dentist at the first part, even though in both cases the procedures involved were pretty basic. His on me involved drills and routines I'm sure he's performed hundreds of times before, and mine involved importing a CD into iTunes — something I've done more than once or twice. The more than a month's worth of music in my iTunes library is testament to that.

The whole thing got me thinking, and not just about the need for pain relief. One of the key selling aspects of the Mac platform is "ease of use", with plenty of people on the record saying it's easier to use than competing solutions. I take such things with a small grain of salt, as I think there's some things that are easier on a Mac, and some that aren't. The dreaded word "intuitive" often comes up in discussions of OS X but, frankly, if my dentist's example is any indication, there's no such thing. My dentist isn't a stupid man by any means, but unfamiliarity with the interface and the lack of a very tiny item of technical knowledge had him stymied.

He was thrilled — not so much when I imported a disc for him, but when he worked out how to do so himself and, specifically, how to sync music over to his iPhone and iPod. Once it made sense it was "intuitive", but not before. He was also happy with what I'd think of as a very simple level of user interaction and basic level of power in his machine.

It's very easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest tech, ever wanting the fastest and best system you can. To a certain extent, there's nothing wrong with that. It's worth remembering, however, that not everybody's experiences or expectations are the same, and that a little learning can go a long way.

Oh, and don't forget to floss.

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